Turn your mobile phone into the perfect cycling computer and save around £300

IMG_4006Most people already have the perfect device for tracking their cycling and following great cycling routes. Their mobile phone. The only problem is the majority of the time they just leave it in their pockets and don’t think about it until they get a call reminding them to pickup some milk on the way home. If you are an iPhone or Android user then you can easily duplicate the functionality of a £300 – £400 device for the price of a bike mount and perhaps a mobile charger. In the video below I take a look at the Mobile Power Station from Mobile Fun.

I’ve covered all the things you need to turn your mobile phone into the perfect cycling computer before:

The great thing is that compared to spending £300+ on a Garmin GPS you get most of the functionality (minus heart rate monitor) for around £40. Which is the cost of a good bike mount. I know I mostly talk about the iPhone as that is the only device I have but you can replicate most of these techniques on any phone. Unfortunately Nokia devices and so forth have been a little slow to catch on to the application market so your best bet if you don’t have an iPhone is an Android.

If you are interested in some kind of iPhone cover or the iPhone charger shown in the video it costs just under £40 and is available from Mobile Fun.

Have you thought about doing this? Is there anything holding you back? Or do you just not really not care about tracking your cycling!? Leave a comment…

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27 Responses to Turn your mobile phone into the perfect cycling computer and save around £300

  1. Phil 01/09/2010 at 2:13 pm #

    For Nokia/Symbian handsets, Sports Tracker works well

    http://www.sports-tracker.com/

    • Andreas 01/09/2010 at 2:18 pm #

      Good recommendation – Sports Tracker is an expectational app for tracking your cycling. Unfortunately there is no functionality to follow a pre-set route but otherwise if you’re on a Nokia you should check it out!

  2. Simon 01/09/2010 at 2:22 pm #

    There are smaller battery packs available that hold more charge, made for plugging the phone into as you do, rather than designed as a case as the one you are using, although either way a great idea to extend the life of your phone on a long trip.

    Additionally, a small tri-box / bento box on the handle bars is a handy way to carry this extra battery.

  3. Tawnycam 01/09/2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Don’t get me wrong I love my iPhone but for me the need from a heart rate monitor on my bike computer is high priority, a key part of my training.

    But if training is not a significant part of your bike riding then a smart phone is ideal.

    • Andreas 01/09/2010 at 2:28 pm #

      Agreed, I think various manufacturers are bringing out heart rate monitors that feed in the data onto smart phones. So I guess that might be the future! Then again Garmin have the Edge 800 on the way so perhaps that steps up the game on their part.

  4. Joe 01/09/2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Hi Andreas, I’ve been following your blog for a while now and it’s been a great inspiration! I just thought I’d mention something that I’ve found very helpful. I use an iPhone, and do a fair amount of cycling so I have the same problem as many/ Just before I went for a 60+mile cycle around the isle of wight, I invested in a powermonkey-eXplorer from Powertraveller (which came with a solar-slave) – It’s superb. It kept my iPhone tracking with gps for the entire route!
    This was my testimonial for Powertraveller, and a quick photo of the set up on my bike – https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome/case%20studies/000356/
    I have the Bicio mount so I just ran the normal iPhone usb cable along the cross bar of my bike to the charger at the back.

    I hope this is of interest!

    Joe

    • Andreas 01/09/2010 at 2:47 pm #

      Hi Joe, thanks for recommending a similar product :)

  5. Steve 01/09/2010 at 2:53 pm #

    I made a positive decision to go the route of having one gadget rather than two. With a background of [ultra] lightweight backpacking this was a direction I was always going to be drawn in; one gadget equals less weight and less bulk than two.

    And I got myself an iGps, ok, ok, its an iPhone4 but its seeing far more use as a GPS, for my cycling and since I bought it primarily for these funcitons so an “iGps” it is ;-)

    As for the apps I use, and especially for the case I read your other posts on these topics.

    The case you mention, the Dahon, is re-badged as Tigra and available from Amazon UK here http://amzn.to/ciuS3d (its not an affiliate ink, just shortened). Although its listed as suitable for the 3G & 3GS my iGps4 ;-) fits with no problems at all.

    Software/App-wise I couldn’t make my mind up so decided to try three:

    Cycle Tracker Pro: http://bit.ly/cmrP3O
    MotionX GPS: http://bit.ly/aN7Or3
    Trails: http://bit.ly/cjbLCT

    MotionX is the most comprehensive but the other two have a couple of functions that I like as well.

    Cycle Tracker Pro uses maps from Google (only).

    MotionX sources its maps from OpenStreetMap & OpenCycleMap as well as Bing and Goggle. Also comes with NOAA marine chart access as well.

    Trails uses OpenStreetMap & OpenCycleMap

    I thought I would try all three and make my mind up from there.

    Fortunately, as I have found as I’ve been trialing them (only had them a week), I don’t have to choose a favourite because I can, and do, run all three simultaneously. I’ve not yet had long day out with them but battery use has been pretty good up until now; turning off wi-fi, and closing all other apps.

    I went with the iGps (iPhone4) because my mobile operator was out of stock with the HTC Desire and did not know when they were going to be re-stocked. The multi-tasking with all three of these apps has been a huge hidden benefit to me.

    • Andreas 01/09/2010 at 5:04 pm #

      Sounds like they’ve been making big improvements to MotionX since I first used it. I’ve generally recommended Trails for a long time but I’m now leaning more towards South East (if you’re in London – bit expensive £10 app!) which has all the maps pre-loaded so it saves battery life. Or even the Everytrail app is fairly good though still in need of improvements. They do a free one which has a limit of 3 rides in the memory.

      • Andrew 05/09/2010 at 9:29 am #

        I bought MotionX GPS last year and for me it’s the best of all I have tried. They are constantly updating it with improvements so great value for £1.79! I’ve tried others that have been suggested/reviewed but MotionX works best for me.

        I have also used the iPhone MemoryMap app which is good and OS maps are great, but having to pay for maps is a downside.

  6. prj45 02/09/2010 at 7:02 am #

    Good luck in the rain!

    • Andreas 02/09/2010 at 8:55 am #

      Yeah, you definitely have to put the phone away in the rain but I’ve not been caught out in the rain that often!

  7. Joe 02/09/2010 at 11:11 am #

    Can I also recommend Cyclemeter by Advio (for iPhone)? It doesn’t have a kitchen sink, or downloadable maps – but it does have an offline mode and everything else I could think of needing!

    Joe

  8. David 02/09/2010 at 11:57 am #

    I use Endomondo, on symbian. It now links with Bluetooth HRMs (sadly not my Garmin). It give verbal updates on laptimes too.
    Its great and free. For finding my way, Google maps can be preloaded with a route via My Maps and shown as layer.
    However, all this does such the life out of the battery

  9. Brian 03/09/2010 at 10:51 am #

    Andreas,

    Great post! I have been using Cyclemeter on my Iphone for about 7 months. I bought a similar (to the one pictured above) bike mount for my iphone. Last month, while stopped for a no more than 30 seconds on the curbside of Pitfield Street (just outside Charlie Wright’s International Bar), a group of 5 kids emerged out of nowhere, ran past me and one of them snatched the phone with such grace I almost missed it. I didnt though and the resulting non-successful chase was not pretty.

    Lesson…. remember your precious Iphone will be on display for all to see and the quick to snatch. This happened to me at 6.00pm during rush hour.

    • Andreas 04/09/2010 at 1:38 pm #

      Brian gutted to hear about this. The little sods! I’ll bear this in mind and whenever I have my iPhone attached I always do keep my eyes peeled. Same with any device attached to the bike

  10. Matt 03/09/2010 at 11:03 am #

    Has anyone seen an Ipad mount yet ?

    • Joe 03/09/2010 at 11:04 am #

      Surpisingly, yes :) Note the part on the motorbike – http://vimeo.com/11886557

      • Matt 03/09/2010 at 7:17 pm #

        Cool…. I might actually use the On-the-wall.idea with the temporary pic to cover the Velcro

  11. Justin Rolfe 03/09/2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Andreas, I want to give the counter argument in favour of the Garmin 705.

    …it’s well under £300, not £400 as stated
    …rain — the Garmin does major thunderstorms flawlessly
    …battery — the Garmin does 20+ hours with 3m accurate GPS: all weekend
    …Garmin maps can be gotten free worldwide at http://garmin.na1400.info
    …Garmin 705 is accurate to within 1-2 metres. It knows which side of the road you’re on
    …speed sensor on wheel gives accurate, reliable speed readings, whereas GPS-only speed measures are both flawed, and averaging over the last 100m or so at best
    …you can use your phone as a phone while navigating
    …cadence and heart rate measurement and recording (if you like that sort of thing)

    The iPhone + these apps is, in my mind, a cheap bodge and not practically comparable to the Garmin. A Blackberry with google maps would do as well and would not have the battery problem (and you would not need to switch the 3G off).

    Justin Rolfe

    • Andreas 04/09/2010 at 1:40 pm #

      Hi Justin – I must admit the figure £400 was an error on my part! You are right it is much closer to £300. Not sure where I came up with £400!

      It’s true that you do get a lot more accuracy and extras with the Garmin but at the cheaper rate of the mobile phone adjustment I think its worth people knowing about it.

      By all means – I have no critique of the Garmin I think it is a fantastic device.

    • To-jo 06/09/2010 at 7:07 am #

      I agree – use the right tool for the job. The iPhone/Andriod are good for casual users. What’s has always put me off is the fact you have a very nice/expensive phone exposed to the elements for which its not really designed for. Rain is the obvious one but what happens if you come off – will it take a good hit. And also what about the vibration – UK roads can be quite rough and all that vibration coming up through the fork could seriously shorten the life of your phone.

  12. rich 29/01/2013 at 11:27 am #

    I’ve mounted my old Android HTC wildfire on to my handle bars, looks and works great (picture linked)

    http://www.triban5.theresnonamesleft.com

    i put the phone in airplane mode to conserve battery life, GPS still works in airplane mode.

    if you’re riding over 5hrs, you would probably be better served by a dedicated device.

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